Maurizio Sarri has had just over one week in his new job as Chelsea manager.
The former bank worker and amateur footballer’s storied rise to the top job at Stamford Bridge job is testament to the fact anything is possible, and he deserved the opportunity to replace the sacked Antonio Conte after three successful seasons with Napoli.
But the scale of the task facing him to transform the Blues is probably only now just about hitting home.
FA Cup final victory over Manchester United aside, last term was a desperate campaign of struggles for the 2016/17 Premier League champions as Chelsea finished fifth and missed out on Champions League football.
One of the 59-year-old’s big objectives will be to restore the club to European football’s top table, and while that can obviously be done through winning the Europa League, managing Thursday to Sunday competition over the course of an entire season is far from easy. Indeed, finishing in the top four is not a foregone conclusion.
On the agenda before that is what is set to be a hectic final three weeks of pre-season to get his new charges ready for the upcoming campaign.
Sarri will take charge of his first match as Blues boss against Perth Glory at the Optus Stadium Down Under on Monday, with Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola his new assistant manager.
Installing the magician as his right-hand man was a smart move given the respect the little Italian commands in many footballing circles.
New signing Jorginho is in line for his unofficial Chelsea bow, with the midfielder’s acquisition certainly a good sign for Sarri in as much as he was a top target and man he knows well from their time together with the Partenopei.
His £57 million arrival, pipped from under the noses of Manchester City, showed club owner Roman Abramovich has given Sarri flexibility to manoeuvre and go after his own targets in the window, rather than be at his mercy.
Sarri will hope the Russian billionaire offers similar support in their pursuit of Russia’s World Cup star, Aleksandr Golovin, who has been widely tipped to join from CSKA Moscow.
While France star and iron man N’Golo Kante will still anchor the midfield, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko’s futures appear less certain. Willian, even more so. However, given the Brazilian is 29, it could make sense to accept a big cash offer from Barcelona.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek should though be one man who is given more of an opportunity to shine after his loan spell from Crystal Palace, similarly Kenedy after coming back from his stint with Newcastle. An ageing defence is a big issue, with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Kurt Zouma among those who could depart.
Negotiations to acquire centre-back Daniele Rugani’s services from Juventus would be a coup although the 23-year-old is still growing in experience and perhaps not ready to be thrust into the Premier League environment.
Question marks over Alvaro Morata’s Bridge future and the role Olivier Giroud has to play next term will also need sorting.
While more incomings certainly really have to bear fruit ahead of the August 9 transfer window deadline, whatever deals are made, the futures of Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois will take centre stage.
Sarri is supposedly desperate to hold talks with both Belgium World Cup stars, who are still holidaying after their third-place finish in Russia.
Keeping Hazard, 27, who has spent six seasons in west London, does look increasingly unlikely given Real Madrid’s appetite to make him their marquee statement as pursuits for Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski fade.
The player himself has gone on the record, revealing his desire to move to the Spanish capital, so perhaps Sarri is resigned to losing the most vital cog in the wheel before he even sets the ball rolling this season.
Courtois, the goalkeeper who has long since made it known he wants to return to Madrid and be closer to his family following his Atletico days, would be another huge miss and leave the club in crisis with just Willy Caballero as a recognised first-team goalkeeper.
Selling both players would recoup significant funds but replacing them with so little time left in the window would leave Chelsea in a real spot of bother and without any momentum ahead of the new campaign.
Sarri’s in-tray is stacked although much of the transfer speculation is out of his hands. The Italian will do well to try and gel various pieces of the jigsaw together but if he can implement his renowned attacking style of football early doors, and indeed pick-up results, that should buy him some more time.
That, in itself, will prove to be no mean feat though given there is work to be done across all aspects of the pitch.
Jurgen Klopp has shrugged off criticism of Liverpool‘s transfer business after he had previously said he would do things differently to big-spending clubs.
Klopp’s side this summer paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to sign Alisson from Roma in a deal worth up to £65million, while in January Virgil van Dijk became the most expensive defender in football when he arrived at Anfield for £75m.
But two years ago, while Manchester United were set to spend a then record fee of £89m on Paul Pogba, Klopp had suggested he would quit the game if those large fees became the norm rather than the exception.
“We don’t care what the world around us is thinking,” Klopp told the BBC.
“Like Manchester United didn’t care what I said.
“It is only an opinion in that moment. Did I change my opinion? Yes. That is true. But it is better to change your opinion than never have one.
“Whatever people say and bring it up again and again, I have had worse days in my life and worse things happen to me. We have the players we wanted. I am fine with that.”
Alisson’s arrival follows the signing of fellow Brazilian Fabinho from Monaco, while midfielder Naby Keita has joined from RB Leipzig and Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke.
Klopp added: “The world has changed completely.
“Better players than we already have are not waiting around the corner. You can’t get the world-class goalkeeper who had a really long contract at Roma on a free transfer.
“It is not for me to say we don’t want to pay big money because in the end Liverpool is not successful. That doesn’t work.”
Klopp also said that Mohamed Salah has come back from the World Cup with no problems.
The Egypt forward, who scored 44 goals in all competitions for the Reds last season, suffered a dislocated shoulder in his side’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
He recovered to play two games at the World Cup for his country, who lost all three of their group games in Russia.
Klopp told Liverpool’s website: “He has fully recovered. We were constantly in contact (during the World Cup) and he was fine. Shoulder-wise, he had no problems.
“He looks full of joy and is really happy to be back. It was nice to see him yesterday for the first time, the same for Sadio (Mane). They look very fit.”
Speaking at the Blues’ pre-season tour in Australia, the Spaniard admitted he’s been in touch with Hazard and talked to him about staying at Stamford Bridge.
“I won’t lie, I speak to him. I think he’s our best player. I think Chelsea need to keep their best players,” Fabregas said.
See what else Fabregas had to say in the video below.